Study the characteristic of influential figures in different historical periods, in addition to enabling their recognition and their role in events and developments in the periods mentioned shows hidden angles of the history to the audience. “Like a soft sponge” is the most recent work...
Interview with the author of the book “Like a Soft Sponge”; the story of a Pahlavi intellectual
Study the characteristic of influential figures in different historical periods, in addition to enabling their recognition and their role in events and developments in the periods mentioned shows hidden angles of the history to the audience. “Like a soft sponge” is the most recent work by Safa-al-Din Tabraeian, which follows a series of his books about recognition of the role of figures and influential elements in second Pahlavi dominion and investigates this part of contemporary history through studying the overt and covert angles of Ehsan Naraghi’s life as one of the most famous figures of Pahlavism Intellectuals. This book is going to be published by Iran contemporary history studies organization.
“Mirage of a general” and “the grey minister” are other books by Tabraeian which study the roles of field marshal Toofanian and Dariush Homayun respectively as influential figures and elements in the second Pahlavi dominion and are published by the same organization.
No doubt it is interesting to know the subject and axes of a book before it is published. Therefore we meet Safa-al-Din Tabraeian to talk to him about his latest work.
□Mr. Tabraeian, why did you choose Ehsan Naraghi as a subject for a lasting work of history?
Years ago I started a project in which I engaged in recognition of influential figures and elements of the Pahlavi regime. As my first choice, in the book “mirage of a general” I studied the character of field marshal Toofanian. The reason for that selection was that his role was important from different aspects and during the years from June 5th 1953 until the revolution no one could get hold of a bullet without his permission.
Dariush Homayun was the most important political and journalistic element in this period who founded the country’s third press center and the first morning paper named Ayandegan. So I chose him for my second book. Homayun was deputy of Rastakhiz party and minister of intelligence and tourism in Amoozegar’s cabinet. He established cabinet spokesmanship for the first time in Iran. He was Amoozegar’s spokesman too.
But Ehsan Naraghi, in my view is the most prominent intellectual in second Pahlavi dominion about whom we hear many talks. Maybe that is why this book is more detailed and is ready to be published in two volumes of 1200 pages.
□You mean Naraghi’s appeal for you for narration of a historical period from the second Pahlavi was due to the talks about him?
Yes, in fact I think it’s proper to discuss and survey the intellectualism or in my view Pahlavist intellectualism. Naraghi is among a group who did not believe in the revolution and severely criticized the groups who believed in armed struggle paradigm.
□Why did you choose the name “soft like a sponge” for this book?
Despite all criticisms towards Naraghi’s thoughts, he had a soft and flexible character against pressure. Ehsan Naraghi is important because he was completely familiar with the Pahlavi figures and at the same time did not accept any responsibility in the government or the court. His most important responsibility was management of social research and study organization which he had founded himself. He was more in to cultural work.
□Ehsan Naraghi was arrested three times after the revolution too and that’s why there are many talks about his character before and after the revolution. Doe this book process Naraghi’s character or does it consider parts of history with regard to this processing?
Exactly; in this book we have reviewed part of the contemporary history through narrating Ehsan Naraghi’s life and activities and his role in the revolution. This book has 17 chapters. His life story and the ups and downs in his life are very interesting. He is the grandchild of Mullah Mohammad Mehdi and Mullah Ahmad Naraghi. In the third chapter of the book, Naraghi’s highlights in Mosadegh’s national government the struggles between Mosadegh and Kashani are dealt with and Naraghi is the message bearer between the two. During adolescence and youth he is drawn to Tudeh party and an important part of his life is indicative of the events of August 19thcoup.
His release from the claws of communism, his education abroad, his assignment from UNESCO regarding research about the youth and his leadership in the UNESCO youth commission are parts of the contents in other chapters of the book.
Foundation and operation of Naraghi social research and study organization is one of the most important chapters of this book. There are discussions about his association with SAVAK and also documents and evidence regarding this subject which are compiled in this book too.
In the role of de-compressor and extremist he was related to both opposition forces of the society who included the cultural and elite classes of the society and also to the second Pahlavi dominion. Naraghi’s delineations with Shari¢ati, nightmares and doubts about his association with SAVAK, Naraghi’s chairmanship of the Research Institute of Scientific and Educational Planning, discussions regarding the necessity of revolution, documents and evidence from Naraghi’s interrogations in Evin and many other issues about the most important historical events related to this character and in this period are compiled in this book.
□Mr. Tabraeian, who is the audience of this book?
This book is at the level of the elite and the academics and the students in the field of political sciences and also the political elite and university professors are suitable audiences of this book. This book is authored completely judicial and without any personal judgment, according to extensive research and study of Naraghi’s 12-fold files in SAVAK and also many hours of interview with Ehsan Naraghi himself.
□How long did you spend on writing this book?
Since during my writing, the late Naraghi was always commuting to Paris I had to wait for him for the answer of my many questions that I encountered in my studies. For this reason and according to studies and evidence and also my many interviews with the late Naraghi writing of this book took 4-5 years.
Thank you for your time.

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